Pastor Segun Adewumi, is the National President of the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association and also the General Overseer, House of Prayer For All Nations Ministry. In this interview, he told Daily Trust how cassava can liberate Nigeria from its economic woes. Excerpts:
How do you combine church activities with this position you are holding?
I just felt some of us in the church should begin to practise what we preach. So, it is not out of place for a man of God to also do farming. Farming is demonstrative of sowing and reaping, that is one. The second thing is that in Nigeria, a lot of pastors are parasites on the economy. We need to help the nation in wealth growth.
I just decided to do cassava. I did over a thousand hectares in one year. Many newspapers were showing my farm and the government of Ondo State sent for me and made me chairman of cassava growers in the state.
By the time I went to the first national meeting, I saw that they were just clamouring for loans without any programme. I suggested programmes and they made me the chairman of the technical committee. I tried some programmes but I couldn’t wait that time. So, I resigned the position given to me. About four or five years ago, they said I should come and actualize what I wrote to them in those years. So, that was how I came into it. It’s not difficult to combine ministry work with farming. It took me time before I agreed but I have not regretted it because a lot of people are now benefiting.
How many people are benefiting?
Members are getting loan and assistance. Already, we have more than 150 people in our employment. Most of them are graduates, who did extension services or who are trained to be extension officers.
Our farmers are actually grouped all over the country under extension officers. They go to the farm with GPS, to measure the farm. We have every farm, especially in the Cassava High Quality Programme, mapped, tracked and recorded on our website. In the past one or two years, we have been able to access loan. The first one we gave was for 8,000 farmers; the second one was for 10,000 farmers.
What has your association outlined as agenda for the new government?
The last minister has been able to lay a good foundation whereby the farmer and other stakeholders, for the first time, were brought into policy making.
The new minister is somebody that has been telling us what exactly agriculture should be. By January, when he is properly settled, we will make our proposals known to him on how agriculture, especially cassava could take Nigeria out of its economic problem.
Let us look at industrial starch for instance, at ratio 1: 4; that means 4 metric tons of cassava gives you 1 metric ton of industrial starch. That is to say, if you mill 200 million tons into starch you are going to get 50 million tons of industrial starch. Industrial starch is sold at ₦180,000 per ton. So, if you have ₦180,000 multiplied by 50 million; we are going to have ₦9 trillion. Cassava can actually take us out of our economic problem, but the cost of production of cassava in Nigeria is too high, it is the highest in the world.